University of Miami kicker Jake Wieclaw’s miss on a 22-yard field-goal attempt late in last week’s win at Georgia Tech has turned into a full-blown slump.
Wieclaw went 0 for 3 in Saturday’s 44-37 win against North Carolina State, hitting the left upright on a 19-yard try. He also missed wide left from 41 and 43. The 22-yarder he missed against Georgia Tech was wide right.
“He just had a bad day,” said punter Dalton Botts, Wieclaw’s holder.
Canes coach Al Golden said he thought that Botts’ ankle injury, which kept him out of practice most of the week, might have disrupted the timing between the holder and Wieclaw.
“You never know how those things impact a kicker,” Golden said. “I will take responsibility for that. Dalton was out all week. He’s the holder. He didn’t hold very much [in practice this week]. Maybe we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be.”
Before to this slump, Wieclaw had been accurate on 18 of his 21 field-goal tries at UM. Given that, Golden said he would have gone back to Wieclaw had he been needed for a field goal on UM’s final drive.
“It’s important for Jake to let this one go and just move on,” Golden said. “That [slump is] not Jake Wieclaw, I promise you.”
It wasn’t a great day for Wieclaw, but Botts got a chance to be a part of a unique trick play on a fake field-goal attempt in the second quarter. Facing a fourth-and-2 at the Wolfpack 8-yard line, Botts took the snap and charged for 4 yards and a first down.
“I could have pitched it, but I was lucky enough I got the first down,” said Botts, who carried at least one defender on his back as he fell forward. “The last time I ran the ball like that was two years ago when I was in junior college at Moorpark [Calif]. I just remember getting hit and saying, ‘I can’t go down. I’ve got to get the first down.’ ”
Botts, who injured his kicking ankle in last week’s win at Georgia Tech, also punted eight times for a 40.6-yard average. He had four punts inside the 20-yard line. He said his ankle “was a little stiff at first ... but I pushed through it.”
This and that
• Right tackle Ben Jones and middle linebacker Gionni Paul each made their first career starts Saturday for the Canes.
Paul had 11 tackles to lead UM and a forced fumble. Jones limped off the field with one minute left in the first quarter. Golden said X-rays performed at halftime were negative. Jones did not return and Seantrel Henderson and Ereck Flowers played in his absence.
• Linebacker Eddie Johnson sustained what appeared to be a right-knee injury with a little more than 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter on a fourth-down conversion by N.C. State. A brace was immediately put on his right knee. Johnson returned to the game. He finished with seven tackles, a sack and two forced fumbles.
• Golden made sure to praise the crowd of 38,510 Saturday at Sun Life Stadium. Even though Saturday’s announced attendance of tickets distributed was less than the announced home-opening attendance of 39,435, there were clearly more fans present Saturday in 87-degree heat.
“I want to thank the fans who came out,” Golden said. “They were loud. They provided us an advantage. I think the student section means a lot because I know it’s hot out there.
“That’s a great advantage, and our kids are embracing the sun.”
MANNY NAVARRO AND SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN